Accepted Paper:

Present uncertainties and imagination in art  


Thomas Fillitz (University of Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

There is a contradiction between the ongoing financial crisis in Europe, and the present success of the global art world. This contribution focuses on imagination in visual arts as a possible attraction to the public, and questions whether it may be transferred into our life worlds.

Paper long abstract:

With globalization, Appadurai envisaged that imagination becomes a major tool for all social actors in shaping their life worlds. The present financial crisis supports more than ever the call for more imagination for our life worlds, for more visions regarding EU-politics.

Interestingly, the global art world - in particular the art market - do not seem to be affected in a similar way: when Lehman Brothers crashed (15|09|2008), British artist Damian Hirst completed a record-breaking sales at Sotheby's London with a turnover of € 144 Mio. Moreover, sales of contemporary art (!) reach unprecedented heights in 2010 and 2011. Visitors of museum of contemporary art as well boom, in 2010: Tate Modern more than 5 Mio., Centre Pompidou more than 3 Mio., or the mega event documenta 12 (2007 over 750.000 art addicts within three months …

One can argue that collectors search for a stable commodity value in investing in art: but they buy contemporary art, a field that is yet not stabilised in terms of values. Furthermore, the visitors to art mega events are not those masses who are dragged on tourist tours into the Louvre. In my contribution, I would like to scrutinize closer this idea of imagination in visual arts: what makes it so peculiar, can we consider its materialisation in the work of art as an aspect of its attraction? Can such an imagination be transferred into the spaces of our life worlds, or are other social fields much more under system control?

Panel W018
Confronting uncertainty: imagination in art and material culture